BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Portland’s longrunning roots rock duo Hillstomp has never quite garnered the same attention and acclaim as contemporaries like Two Gallants, let alone the Black Keys. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve it. Henry Kammerer (guitar, banjo, vocals) and John Johnson (percussion) fold more folk and country elements into their blues rock base than do most of their peers, giving the music on their fifth LP Portland, Oregon a moodier, less macho vibe.
“Henry Oh My Henry,” “Don’t Come Down” and the downright lovely “Undertow” sound like old traditional numbers even if they’re actually originals, while the moody take on the genuinely traditional tune “The Cuckoo” brings an old song into the present. The melancholy “Crowhurst,” the countrified “Reason to Leave” and the blues-soaked “Life I Want” form a nice resumé for Americana-approved artists looking for good songs to cover. Best of all is the magnificent “15 White Horses,” which wraps all of the band’s virtues into one exceptional track. Portland, Oregon probably won’t get nominated for any Americana Music Association awards, but it deserves to be included in that roundup as much as anything by a bigger name.
DOWNLOAD: “15 White Horses,” “Undertow,” “Life I Want”